List of religious leaders convicted of crimes
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This is a list of religious leaders who have been convicted of serious crimes before, during or after their period as a religious leader.
- Tony Alamo - Headed a Santa Clarita commune. Convicted of tax evasion in 1994 and then resided in a halfway house in Texarkana. In 2009, he was convicted of ten federal counts of taking minors across state lines for sex, and sentenced to 150 years in federal prison.
- Shoko Asahara - Founder of Aum Shinrikyo sentenced to death by hanging under Japanese law for involvement in the 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.
- Wayne Bent (aka: Michael Travesser) - Founder of Lord Our Righteousness Church, sometimes called Strong City. Was convicted of one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in 2008. He was sentenced to 18 years with eight years suspended.
- Graham Capill - former leader of Christian Heritage New Zealand. Sentenced to nine-year imprisonment term in 2005 after multiple charges of child sexual abuse against girls younger than twelve.
- Matthew F. Hale - Former leader of Creativity Movement sentenced to a 40-year prison term for soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill a federal judge.
- Warren Jeffs - Once President of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a polygamist Mormon sect), convicted of rape as an accomplice (overturned in 2010). Jeffs was convicted in a Texas state court of child sex charges and sentenced to life plus 20 years. He is incarcerated at the Powledge state prison. He also awaits trial in other states and in the federal court system.
- Jung Myung Seok - South Korean religious sect leader and founder of Providence. Convicted for raping several of his followers.
- William Kamm - An Australian religious sect leader and self-styled Pope Peter II who was sentenced to prison in October 2005 for a string of sexual attacks on a 15-year-old girl. In August 2007 his sentence was increased after being found guilty for a series of sexual abuses against another teenage girl over a five-year period.
- Ervil LeBaron - Led a small sect of polygamous Mormon fundamentalists, and was convicted of involvement in the murder of two people and plotting to kill another person in 1981.
- Alice Lenshina - Zambian head and founder of the Lumpa Church. Conflicts with the government over the sect's rejection of taxes led to a violent confrontation and her subsequent imprisonment.
- Jeffrey Lundgren - Headed splinter group from Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, executed October 24, 2006, for multiple murders.
- Charles Manson - Leader of the Manson Family who served life in prison for first degree murder until his death in 2017.
- Shukri Mustafa - Egyptian leader of Takfir wal-Hijra who was captured and executed for the kidnap and murder of an Egyptian ex-government minister.
- Fred Phelps - Leader of anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. Convicted for disorderly conduct and battery.
- Swami Premananda of Tiruchirapalli - Indian religious leader convicted and sentenced to two life sentences for the rape of 13 girls and murder in 2005.
- Theodore Rinaldo - Leader of a religious group in Snohomish, Washington convicted of third-degree statutory rape for having sexual intercourse with one minor girl and of taking indecent liberties with another.
- Paul Schäfer - Former head of Chile-based Colonia Dignidad, was convicted of sexually abusing 25 children.
- Roch Thériault - Former head of "Ant Hill Kids commune" served a life sentence in Canada for the murder of Solange Boislard.
- Yahweh Ben Yahweh - Head of Nation of Yahweh, convicted for Federal racketeering charges and conspiracy involving 14 murders.
- Dwight York - Head of Nuwaubianism, convicted in 2004 of multiple RICO, child molestation, and financial reporting charges and sentenced to 135 years in prison.
- Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh - an Indian guru, music producer, singer-songwriter, actor, and filmmaker. He has been the head of the social group Dera Sacha Sauda since 1990. On 28 August 2017, Singh was sentenced to 20 years in jail for rape. He has also faced prosecution for murder and ordering forced castrations. He is also alleged to have committed sexual assaults on many of his followers. He is also involved in murder of a journalist
- Joseph Smith, Jr. - The founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, was "subjected to approximately thirty criminal actions" during his life. Another source reports Smith was arrested at least 42 times. Smith was killed by a mob while in jail awaiting trial on charges of treason against Illinois.
- Jim Bakker - Created the PTL organization. Convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges after illegally soliciting millions of dollars from his followers.
- Hogen Fukunaga - Founder of Ho No Hana who was given a twelve-year jail sentence for fraudulently gaining 150 million yen from his followers.
- Kent Hovind (Dr. Dino) - founder of the Creation Science Evangelism ministry. Willful failure to collect, account for, and pay over Federal income taxes, knowingly structuring transactions in Federally-insured financial institutions to evade the reporting requirements, and obstructing and impeding the administration of the internal revenue laws.
- L. Ron Hubbard - Founder of Scientology. He was convicted of petty theft and ordered to pay a $25 fine in San Luis Obispo, California 1948 and in 1978 was convicted of illegal business practices, namely, making false claims about his ability to cure physical illnesses in France. He was sentenced to four years in prison, which was never served.
- Luc Jouret - A founder of the Order of the Solar Temple. He was convicted in Canadian Federal Court of conspiring to buy illegal handguns.
- Henry Lyons - Former President of National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Convicted for racketeering and grand theft.
- Barry Minkow - Head pastor of San Diego's Community Bible Church, and founder of the Fraud Discovery Institute, who had turned to religion and entered the ministry after release from prison for the notorious ZZZZ Best fraud, returned to prison in 2011 for further acts of securities fraud while serving as a clergyman.
- Sun Myung Moon - Leader of Unification Church, imprisoned for criminal tax fraud in the 1980s.
- Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – later called Osho. Fined $400,000 and given a 10-year suspended sentence following a plea bargain agreement in which he made an Alford plea to (1) a charge of having concealed his intent to remain permanently in the U.S. at the time he applied for his visa extension and (2) a charge of having conspired to have followers stay illegally in the country by having them enter into sham marriages. Deported from the United States.
- David Yonggi Cho - Founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church. Sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling 13 billion won (US$12 million) in church funds, in 2014.
- Kong Hee - Founder of City Harvest Church. Original sentence of eight years, reduced to three and a half years for misappropriation of church funds amounting to SGD50million, in 2016. See City Harvest Church Criminal Breach of Trust Case
- "Jury Convicts An Evangelist Of Tax Evasion". The New York Times. 1994-06-12. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Onishi, Norimitsu (2004-02-27). "Ex-Leader of Japan Cult Sentenced to Death in Gas Attack". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-20.[dead link]
- "Sect Leader Who Allegedly Sought Virgins Found Guilty on Sex Charge". AP. TAOS, N.M: Fox News. 15 December 2008. Archived from the original on 8 February 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- "New Mexico Apocalyptic Sect Leader Gets 10 Years in Sex Case". AP. Las Vegas, N.M: Fox News. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- "Paedophile politician released". New Zealand Herald. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- "Matthew Hale gets maximum 40-year sentence". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2005-04-07. Archived from the original on 2006-02-14. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "US polygamy sect leader sentenced". BBC News. 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "JMS leader sentenced to 6 years". Korea Herald. 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
- "Cult leader jailed for more sexual abuse". The Age. Melbourne. 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "TIME". TIME. 1981-08-31. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Brockman, Norbert. Lenshina Mulenga Mubisha, Alice Dictionary of African Christian Biography. 1994. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "Ohio Executes Cult Leader for 5 Killings". CBS News. 2007-10-26. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Linder, Doug. The Charles Manson (Tate-LaBianca Murder) Trial Archived 2007-12-08 at the Wayback Machine. UMKC Law. 2002. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Livesey, Bruce. the salafist movement. Frontline. 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Notable Names Database. Fred Phelps entry.
- Southern Poverty Law Center. Timeline of the life of Fred Phelps, Sr. Archived 2008-01-12 at the Wayback Machine
- "Guru gets lifers for 13 rapes". The Times of India. 2005-04-05. Archived from the original on August 28, 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Haley, Jim (December 4, 1979). "Businessman guilty of 2 morals charges". Everett Herald. p. 1A.
- "Chilean colony sex abuser jailed". BBC News. 2006-05-24. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Colin A. Ross (1995). Satanic Ritual Abuse: Principles of Treatment. University of Toronto Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-8020-7357-3.
- "BLACK SECT LEADER GETS 18-YEAR TERM". The New York Times. 1992-09-05. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "Sect leader sentenced to 135 years for molesting children". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 2004-04-22. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Pandey, Devesh K. (2017-08-28). "Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to serve 20 years in jail". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
- "Hearing in journalist murder case involving Dera chief Ram Rahim posted to October 27". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
- "Joseph Smith and the criminal justice system", Wikipedia, 2018-12-25, retrieved 2019-01-21
- "A Look at Some Fallen Religious Leaders". SF Gate. 2006-11-03. Archived from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "Foot cult leader sentenced to prison". United Press International. 2005-07-15. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- Indictment, United States of America v. Kent E. Hovind and Jo D. Hovind, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, case no. 3:06CR83/MCR (dated July 11, 2006; filed at 12:55 pm, July 11, 2006).
- "Kent Hovind, 'Dr. Dino,' guilty on all counts". Pensacola News Journal. 2006-11-03. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- Miller, Russell. Bare-faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard, p. 142. London: Joseph, 1987. ISBN 0-7181-2764-1
- St. Petersburg Times. 1999-03-29 https://web.archive.org/web/20110522214354/http://www.sptimes.com/News/32999/Worldandnation/Abroad__Critics_publi.html. Archived from the original on 2011-05-22. Retrieved 2009-07-28. Missing or empty
- Boca Raton News. 1982-12-12 https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=YSwQAAAAIBAJ&dq=l%20ron%20hubbard%20convicted%20france&pg=6790%2C4530862. Retrieved 2009-07-28. Missing or empty
- The Age. 1978-02-21 https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=oQYQAAAAIBAJ&pg=3949,2428446&dq=l+ron+hubbard+convicted+france. Retrieved 2009-07-28. Missing or empty
- Davies, Lizzy (2009-05-25). "Church of Scientology goes on trial in France". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- "Church of Scientology on trial in France". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- Farnsworth, Clyde H. (1994-10-16). "Canada Seeks Money Trail Of Secret Cult". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "'Time to pay the piper' for preacher convicted of grand theft". CNN. 1999-03-31. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- "Barry Minkow heads back to prison". The Los Angeles Times. 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
- "Moon Conviction IsUpheldbyCourt". The New York Times. 1983-09-14. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- Gordon, James S. (1987). The Golden Guru. Lexington, Massachusetts: The Stephen Greene Press. pp. 199–201. ISBN 0-8289-0630-0.
- Staff (2007). "Oregon History: Chronology - 1952 to 2002". Oregon Blue Book. Directory and Fact Book compiled by the Oregon State Archives. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
- Staff. "Wasco County History". Oregon Historical County Records Guide. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
- "Acharya Rajneesh". Contemporary Authors Online. Thomson Gale. September 5, 2003.
- Staff (1990). "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh". Newsmakers 1990. Gale Research. pp. Issue 2.
- Staff (2007). "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh". Almanac of Famous People, 9th ed. Thomson Gale.
- Moon, Ruth (February 24, 2014). "Founder of World's Largest Megachurch Convicted of Embezzling $12 Million". Christianity Today.